On a historic night at Q2 Stadium, Austin FC scored its first goals at home and notched the first home win in Club history with a 4-1 victory over the Portland Timbers. ATXFC earned all three points in its third match at home in front of a raucous, sellout crowd of 20,738, remaining undefeated at Q2 Stadium.
The Verde & Black came out strong, creating multiple chances in the first 20 minutes of the half and controlling the run of play. The sustained pressure paid dividends in the 28th minute. Forward Jon Gallagher combined with Tomás Pochettino on the right wing and continued his run into the box. Pochettino’s sharp return pass hit the Irishman in stride, and Gallagher slotted it the ball past Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark with his left foot. The resulting euphoria among fans and players reflected 200-plus minutes of anticipation was felt by fans throughout Q2 Stadium, as the crowd erupted to celebrate the Club’s first goal at home.
Five minutes later, Diego Fagundez added to Austin’s lead. Julio Cascante’s strong header at midfield found Cecilio Domínguez in space. With a deft touch, Domínguez played Fagundez into a 1v1 against Clark. Fagundez calmly tucked the ball under Clark for his third goal of the season.
The Timbers got one goal back in the seventh minute of stoppage time after Marvin Loría received Diego Valeri’s lofted pass deep on the right side. Loría picked out Jeremy Ebobisse inside the six-yard box for a simple finish.
In the second half, Austin regained its attacking rhythm, and Hector Jimenez nearly rewarded Daniel Pereira’s long dribble run with a 16-yard blast. However, Timbers defender Dario Zuparic saved it with a glancing header off the crossbar. Pochettino also made a marauding run through the midfield and forced Clark into a quality save.
Austin FC midfielder and captain Alex Ring restored the two-goal lead in the 77th minute. Domínguez served a free kick that Ring headed just inside the far post from about 15 yards out.
A few minutes later, Jimenez won the ball in the Timbers half, exchanged passes with Jared Stroud, and side-stepped a defender before passing the ball into an empty side of the goal.
Austin FC Head Coach Josh Wolff:
On midfielder Daniel Pereira: “[Daniel] Pereira was one of our central midfielders, he’s got a lot of qualities, 20 years old, he doesn’t look like you normal 20-year-old. He’s been out for seven weeks, these are his first significant minutes of the game. His ability to turn in tight spots, his ability to dribble and drive in tight spots after the challenge. These aren’t easy guys, those are talented players, those are the best in the midfield. We’re going to keep pushing, I told him he’s got high potential; I’m going to keep pushing him, keep growing him. His ceiling is what he’s going to make it, he’s a really talented player.”
On the end of the first half: “The first 45 minutes was as professional as a performance as I’ve seen us have, with our team or any team. It was so balanced from the start to the 35th minute. Whatever happens on the field you’ve got to be able to manage it, and we did from start to finish. We lost a little of our form for moments, but we got to finish out the half. So, I came in and told them, it’s just about going out there and understanding, they’re going to come with energy, they’re going to come with intensity, they got a goal to come back into it. Now we’re going to stick to what we’re doing. We’re going to get out shape, get our structure, get the ball, try to take the power from them and give them credit, they came out in the second half and pushed. They started pressing a little more but for us it was about pushing, taking the ball away a little more from them and utilizing that to try to kill their energy. Try to kill their spirit. But the third goal was always going to do it. That’s what we’ve got to keep in mind. We have to stay hungry, we have to stay aggressive. You got to get that third goal and that becomes the knockout punch.”
On the significance of tonight: “I think it’s extremely significant. We went in the locker room after the game and that’s what I said. They brought us all here. They built this unbelievable stadium. Delivered us to this fantastic community and we’re fortunate enough to get goals and cap for a win. But the fans, everything’s been right. Tonight, we got the goal, to break that seal and to cap it off for our first win in Q2 [Stadium]. It’s a momentous occasion, and we’re very fortunate to be doing what we do. Moments like this to be a first-year team, to get your first goal, your first win, you know it will be memorable. Certainly, will be very memorable for me and I hope all these players and fans remember it as memorable of an experience.”
On the defensive effort: “Obviously it’s a funny thing, when the goalies get talked about its you’re happy, but that means he’s under the gun, he’s making a lot of saves and Brad [Stuver] has been fantastic for us. But collective our offense starts from the moment we have it and our defense starts from the moment we don’t have it. But obviously it’s fantastic. Žan [Kolmanič] been great, as well as Hector [Jimenez], he’s done a great job filling in for Nick [Lima]. There’s good experience out there, there’s good balance out there. Having Alex [Ring], Diego [Fagundez], all those guys that are real warriors. To be competitors right in front of there, you know, that helps. But it’s a collective effort, our team certainly has experienced a lot these first dozen games and tonight was a very all around and professional performance. But our defense has been probably the more consistent aspect of our game throughout the season so far.”
Austin FC Forward Jon Gallagher
On the non-scoring drought: Yeah, it’s a strange feeling I mean I’ve been on teams where you’re not scoring but that’s because you’re not creating chances. You’ve seen at Q2 [Stadium] where we’ve just been dominating games, peppering the goals, especially the first 15 minutes or something. It’s frustrating but at the same time one of them has got to go in, one of them has got to bounce of someone’s head or thigh or something. We’ve just got to get lucky, and when that happens. The floodgates open. I woke up having a good feeling this morning and felt that we were going to score tonight. We had to.
On the team playing better together: “I think the coaching staff does a brilliant job of scouting the opponents’ weaknesses. Something in detail that I have not experienced in my previous teams is how tactically smart the coaches are. I mean every game they draw a plan on how we’re going to exploit them, and it works nearly every game. That final ball just wasn’t there, I don’t know what it was, maybe it was just nerves. Guys being more selfless and making runs in the box to make more space. I think you saw that a lot with the goals. Guys thinking, okay I’m not going to score here but maybe I can and if I don’t that guy is going to be open.”
ATX (1-0) – Jon Gallagher, 28’ (assisted by Tomás Pochettino)
ATX (2-0) – Diego Fagundez 33’ (assisted by Cecilio Domínguez, Julio Cascante)
POR (2-1) – Jeremy Ebobisse 45’+7’ (assisted by Marvin Loría, Diego Valeri)
ATX (3-1) – Alex Ring 77’ (assisted by Cecilio Domínguez)
ATX (4-1) – Hector Jimenez 81' (assisted by Jared Stroud)